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Cheers to Craft Beer!

At first glance, you might not think that a bank and a craft brewery have much in common.

However, many of the values that define a craft brewery—integrity, community involvement, tradition, and customer connection—are essential to our mission here at First Bank. And judging by the growing popularity of craft brewers, America is getting on board!

According to the Brewers Association, craft brewers are small, independent, and traditional. A “craft” brewing company must produce 6 million barrels of beer or less per year. The majority of total beverage alcohol volume must be derived from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation, and less than 25% of the craft brewery can be owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage company that is not a craft brewer.

The number of breweries in the United States is on the rise, topping 2,700 by the end of 2013, and the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer.

The Asheville Beer Renaissance

Asheville residents are about to experience all the benefits craft breweries have to offer as Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Company prepare to open new breweries within minutes of the city.

Sierra Nevada’s new brewery in Mills River, NC, has set the ambitious goal of producing 4.5 million cases of beer a year, including Pale Ale, Torpedo Extra IPA, and seasonal and specialty brews. The 350,000 square-foot plant is 75% complete, and the public is invited to check it out on August 3rd, during the Beer Camp Across America Festival.

Bill Manley, beer ambassador for Sierra Nevada Brewing, has gushed, “…this is one of the most perfect places we could have ever chosen and we’ve been in love with the Asheville area ever since.”

New Belgium Brewing Company has also seen the potential in Asheville, which was named Beer City USA by the Brewers Association from 2009 to 2012. The makers of the popular Fat Tire beer, they plan to build a $175 million facility on Craven Street in the heart of the River Arts District.

In addition to bringing prestige and beer tourists to the Asheville area, this new brewery will employ 154 workers, not including construction jobs. The 10 other craft breweries in Buncombe County are excited about the new factories, and the opportunities for tourism they bring.

Both companies cite the environmentally friendly atmosphere of Asheville, as well as the artistic and cultural vibe of the city. The clear, delicious water is an added bonus. With plenty of local beer connoisseurs, Asheville may become the reigning Beer City USA once again!

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